BY SEBASTIAN UYS*
I have written this article for 2 reasons. First , to offer support, care and stability to all those who read it so that you would walk away from this article feeling encouraged. Secondly, I desire to inform, and offer sympathy to you by offering a perspective of the COVID-19 Virus from a historical and holistic human view. This fancy view that is holistic or ‘non-reductionist’, simply means that we should not reduce the impact of the virus to purely biological terms.
Like a slow growing wave, the crescendo of the Coronavirus’s melody has begun to ring louder and louder all across the earth. As it stands in early May ; America, Spain and Italy have been hit hardest in terms of deaths, with the amount of confirmed cases of COVID at 3,62 million people. . Uncertainty, fear and panic have additionally been increased due to the nationwide lockdowns, which (by the way), have never been seen in the history of human civilization. Never. The mass quarantine of entire populations and continents who are symptom-free stands in a league of its own. If one looks back at the history, at least in the Western World, this can only be compared to a voluntary isolation in a small town of Eyam in England during a severe outbreak of plague in 1666.
When we understand human beings as physical, emotional and spiritual creatures, we can recognize that the impact of this virus is far more all-encompassing than we tend to appreciate. Social isolation (for example, there are students on campus who are currently staying alone in Residences), the dislocation of communities, unemployment, market collapse, widespread anxiety and restricted access to healthcare can be just as destructive as the disease. All of this radical change leaves one’s foundations unearthed. Our weekly routines are out of the window, classes are cancelled, roads and shopping centers are closed, church gatherings are prohibited and entire supply and demand networks from around the world are shut down.
However, not only have our foundations been exposed, but also the frailty of the things in which we place our hope. A dark shadow has been cast upon our supposedly secure future’s. Will we finish our academic year? Will I get my degree? Will I get a job? Will I get sick? Will my family get sick? Will I die? Will we make it as a country? The idea of uncertainty and even death, besides it being an absolute truth that all of us will die, has become forced into our daily media intake and our thoughts. Where have you run too, to stem the tide? Did you run to comfort in the statistical probability of death with disease (which is difficult to determine due to uncertainty of how many people actually have the disease), hours of series, escapism or anxiety? To be honest, I have found some days difficult.
But as you stop, look around and think; perhaps you have noticed that your hope needs a new home. Some place that is stable, secure, unchallenged and strong through surrounding turmoil and chaos. Also, not only some place, but someone. Someone who can offer you love, not manipulation, and grace into your deepest fear. This someone, to whom I can look to each day, is Jesus Christ. The true, living, personal and powerful Lord of all, Jesus Christ. Not a religious worldview, but a living and powerful relationship with the creator of the universe. In this time of rampant change, confusion and panic; I would encourage you to cast your hopes and your future upon him as our academics, schedules, shopping centers, relationships and lives have all largely been shaken.
Perhaps you may be questioning what I have written, or perhaps wondering where God is in sickness and death of COVID-19. As we think through these questions, as genuine as they often are, we must start with the acknowledgement that Jesus Christ coming to earth to die for our sins displays an intimate compassion for the evil, brokenness and suffering in this world. He died, so that we may live. It is hard to raise a finger against him, once we truly see him hanging on that tree.
May we all be safe, wise, responsible and practical as we wait out this storm together. But most importantly, as our President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said on Good Friday, “May God bless South Africa and protect her people. May he continue to hold us in the palm of his hand”.
*”Currently enjoying lockdown in Ladismith, Klein Karoo, and finding time to work on my thesis“